Background: Recovery from hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT) is intensive and fraught with complications that can undermine well-being and quality of life. While psychological resilience is needed, to date no qualitative study has investigated patient experiences of positive emotions during recovery from HSCT.
Methods: Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 25 HSCT patients to explore experiences of positive emotions at two time-points: i) 30 days post HSCT and ii) 100 days post HSCT. Data were transcribed and coded using NVivo by two interdisciplinary healthcare professionals (psychiatry and clinical psychology) with good inter-rater reliability.
Results: Participants reported several positive psychological constructs at both time points in their recovery from HSCT. The most commonly reported positive emotions were hope, gratitude and optimism. The frequency of positive emotions typically declined at 100 day follow-up, but participants reported more feelings of happiness and good fortune/luck. The two primary sources of positive emotions reported by participants were family and participation in pleasant and meaningful activities.
Conclusion: HSCT patients experience a range of positive emotional experiences despite ill health and intensive medical treatment. Future research should explore the feasibility of positive psychology interventions, tailored to this medical population, to help maintain and bolster positive well-being post HSCT.